Last Days in Iraq

Friday, August 01, 2008

Transcript

Freelance photographer Zoriah Miller was disembedded from the Marine Corps this summer after taking photographs of dead US Marines and posting them to his blog. Miller says despite following every rule of embedded journalists, the Marine Corps leadership sought to ban him from being an embed for life.

Comments [33]

Snow White Queen from Australia

I think its awful that Zoriah got kicked out.

He was showing us the truth of a topic that effects us all, and i seriously think there should be more journalists like him

Mar. 11 2009 07:38 PM
Mark Heller from San Francisco

Grumpy Demo - hate to actually have to say this and stupe to a level so low - but you are a fool and a moron.

"Wingers" "Bushies" I fail to see how any term like that applies to me??? Oh - since I was in the military I must be a right-wingin-goose-stepping-clan-loving-capitolism-over-truth-republican right?

Go back - read this and look at the pictures! Pay attention to the words...

http://www.zoriah.net/blog/suicide-bombing-in-anbar-.html

And view some of the other ambulance chasing he has done, and for sale on his dot com site.... After thing about the words of the first site, think about all of the children he photographs in desparate situations.

Then start again without your your own political name calling agenda.

As I see no comarison to this: (I corrected the address for you... Because no one else would - no one else saw it or read it it either)
http://www.hrc.utexas.edu/exhibitions/web/ddd/gallery/war/vietnam.html

Or this:
http://www.mathewbrady.com/portraits.htm

Aug. 13 2008 04:01 AM
Grumpy Demo

Hey Mark,

Read Strunk & White's "The Elements of Style" or else start a blog.

Anyway, nice to know that Matthew Brady would also be banned by the Bushies.

Aug. 08 2008 08:07 PM
Mark Heller from San Francisco

FYI (& record) – I do not believe in any just cause for the US to have entered Iraq. Nor do I support the Administrations tactics for continuing it.

I was not there that day… But I have been a Marine, AND been in a situation similar with photographers salivating for pictures of the dead in Somalia. And that is how I see it – it is more about respect and dignity – betrayal of trust and of a cohesive fighting unit in battle, than of censorship. Mr. Miller is despicable to have taken those pictures in the presence of both the living and the wounded in an hour of need, when he could have put down the camera and helped. And to have twisted the situation to his political and professional gain on the bodies of the dead.

Aug. 08 2008 02:57 AM
Mark Heller from San Francisco

A Sergeant hears about it – and he knows that the presence of those pictures on a small Marine encampment could escalate into a full-blown “flagging” of the reporter. So he goes to the reporter and asks for him to turn them over or destroy them – the reporter not only refuses – but says he already posted them on the internet….. So he takes that up the chain of command and it becomes a topic for the Generals to decide, and they too ask that they be removed because the incident is only a few days old – fresh and emotional and NOT what you want while trying to fight a war. The reporter refuses, and is now salivating more because he is getting his break with the pictures of your dead friend – but is now got some political capitol to claim censorship. So what do you do with a guy like that who is so disruptive to the moral of your unit? You get rid of him and fast!

Aug. 08 2008 02:56 AM
Mark Heller from San Francisco

Then you notice the reporter that you told to wait has bust into the room and is walking around in the blood of the living wounded and dead to get his ‘big break’ and get a picture of the freshly killed Marines scattered around you – you know that he has been salivating for the opportunity. He brags on his blog about having been with the Red Cross Disaster Services – but he’s not there to help with the wounded - he’s there to make a name for himself and you know it, and he’s going to do it with picture of your dead friends. So what do you do? You drag him out of there and put him under guard so that you can gain control of the chaotic situation at hand. Then you get back to base and you tell everyone what happened – and they are disgusted by the self-serving behavior of the reporter. Those people - Marines - charged with fresh emotion feel that they would not mind one bit if a stray bullet hit that reporter in the head – just so happens that those persons have a whole bunch of stray bullets in their rifles….

Aug. 08 2008 02:56 AM
Mark Heller from San Francisco

Imagine yourself as a Marine driver on a convoy – being hyper-aware, yet assigned to drive someone around that can not help you if there is trouble – and there is… You’re driving along and then there is news that there was a bombing and that people are wounded and dead – there may even be a second suicide bomber – a tactic recently used. You drive there to help provide triage for the wounded and/or security for the area to accommodate their evacuation to medical help as there is none on the scene. The event only happened moments before and there are wounded still all over, there are body parts scattered everywhere – it is confusing and chaotic. You ask that the reporter stay out of the way in one location so you can help the wounded and search for a possible second suicide bomber, and you and the other Marines with you are doing so – and trying to control chaos.

Aug. 08 2008 02:56 AM
Mark Heller from San Francisco

As you listen to Miller describe the events that led to him taking those photos – apparently the only opportunity for him to take a picture of a dead American service member – put yourself in the shoes of the Marines he was with for a moment – and forget about the topic of censorship that he is hiding behind. A topic that has made him headline news, and that he will benefit richly from. Photojournalism is a commodity – and it is FOR SALE.

Aug. 08 2008 02:55 AM
Mark Heller from San Francisco

One should ask what happened that day from the prospective someone other than Miller. Having been on the other side of a very similar situation in Somalia. What I can read between the lines to see, is a picture of an opportunist, manipulating the political atmosphere for his personal gain. Does something so despicable, colors it, and hides it under a righteous cause of standing up for the lofty principles of free speech.

Aug. 08 2008 02:54 AM
Mark Heller from San Francisco

There seems to be some conflict in Mr. Miller’s memory. On the program ‘On The Media’ he was quoted as being ‘under guard for his protection,’ and general attitudes toward him afterward were that if he wanted to leave he could walk outside the wire (By himself) any time he wanted to cover the war. – Yet on ‘Talk of the Nation’ he says he was supported by those he was embedded with?

Both programs “tried to contact the Marine Corps for a response…” So we only got one side of the story. Funny - Mr. Miller himself may have gotten mail in that unit, and knows the FPO address on the unit, and may even know the names of the people he was with that day – he may even know the satellite phone number of someone in the unit. But I don’t think he wants to get a second perspective on the events on the ground – and knows that one would be hard to come by.

Aug. 08 2008 02:53 AM
Chris Gray from New Haven, CT

Here's the thing; as opposed to this war as I have been, I am as unlikely to investigate Miller's site (or all the other gore offered above) as I am to go to a site with a beheading.

I have enough images, from Brady's Civil War dead, to a Vietnamese monk self-immolating, to a Vietnamese man shot in the head with a pistol, to the small Vietnamese girl lit with Napalm whom we heard from on "This I Believe" recently, to a dead black man on a balcony in Memphis, to the dead girl on the lawn of Kent State from neither of whom we will ever hear, again, that will never be erased without consciously seeking them out.

While it may be argued that news images hastened our exit from Vietnam, I feel it was far more the scale of the losses. I don't think it can be denied that news images hastened our withdrawals from Beirut and Mogadishu, but in both cases they played into a larger political calculus.

What's beginning to worry me is that while people are still arguing about the presumably winding-down war in Iraq, no one questions the strategies of renewing our once supposedly won war on the Taliban and pressing into the uncharted territory of messing with the newly reorganized but not judicially restored Pakistani government.

In essence, the doctrine of pre-emptive war is trumped by revengeful war, to which we all nodded our heads enthusiastically and then watched botched, first, expecting, somehow, better the second time around.

Aug. 07 2008 01:48 AM
Leon Fair from Omaha, NE

So what is the Marine Corp or The Defense Department trying to hide. This kind of conduct is no different than what occured during The Vietnam War. Terrible things took place there, and no one was supose to speak about, let alone photograph them. Well it time the American people learned that war is not a clean cut affair, where buildings and Bridges are the only things the get destoryed, that people get hurt and killed, some so destoryed that there's not enough left to bury. And none of what happens should be hidden.

But why should we be suprised at the military's action. They don't even want the American people to know what's happening to our own service people, there or when they return home.

We need more men and women in Iraq Like Mr. Miller. People who will document and sent back to the American people the full, true story of what occures in war, and not some sanitized bunch of junk, designed to deflect hard questions. Like why did we attack Iraq in the first place.

And if anyone wonders, I'm a retired U.S. Navy Vet.

Aug. 06 2008 01:13 AM
Grumpy Demo from Dallas

Quite a toll fest. As always, Bushie Trolls engage in character assassination, rather than address the issues (Carl would be proud).

barryinNewYork "sunlight is the best antiseptic" that's why you want the truth suppressed. Why do you want to suppress the facts about our troops sacrifice: Can it be that these you men and women killed and injured for the lies of the current administration have to hidden out of embarrassment?

Mr. Heller, you need to go and look the sites I posted. So Mr. Douglas, a commercial photographer for Life magazine (i.e. was paid for his pictures) yet he received a lifetime award for the Marine Corps. So he should also be denigrated, because he was paid for his photos? I thought Wingers loved capitalism? Where's the outrage on the other war profiteers, KBR, Blackwater, etc.?

Mr Miller's photos appear to be no different than Mr. Douglas', the only difference it that for the past eight years anyone who spoke the truth about Iraq was subject to personal attack and denigration by the Right, an example right here.

Heck of job Messers. Heller and barryinNewYork, maybe you can take a camera and fly to the "peaceful" victory that is Iraq and take some pictures of the WMDs that the press is covering up.

Aug. 04 2008 10:01 PM
Mark Heller from San Francisco

Put yourself in the minds of the two gentlemen in the foreground of this picture....

http://www.diariesofashooter.com/Resources/g6y8022.jpeg

One looks as if he wants to hit the photographer (As I would have) - the other clearly was keeping his face out of the photo (Also as I would have) and both irritated by his presence.

In your hour of need - when you are digging through the rubble to find your family - don't you want to have a photographer around?

http://www.diariesofashooter.com/Resources/img0067psmzccopya.jpeg

It reminds me of that scene in "Apocalypse Now" - "Don't look into the camera - act natural - you're fighting"

Aug. 04 2008 02:59 AM
Mark Heller from San Francisco

Maybe you would like to buy this picture of your son?
http://www.diariesofashooter.com/Resources/fd9t0983.jpeg

Aug. 04 2008 02:42 AM
Mark Heller from San Francisco

If you feel that Mr. Miller is successful at marketing himself as a 'hero' battling the censors - for making a living out of chasing ambulances in the real or figurative sense in countries around the world - then maybe you would like to puchase a picture of a dead teenaged boy for the tune of a few thousand dollars. Available quite possibly soon - here on his website:
http://www.zoriah.com/prints.html
Hero - or profiteer?

Aug. 04 2008 02:30 AM
Mark Heller from San Francisco

For anyone who thinks that pictures of the dead are censorship - you lack imagination!?

Let us try a little experiment - I'm sure you may have seen something kind of gory along side the road, i.e. a dead or dying dismembered animal hit by a car. Bowels spilled out on the road, limbs twisted in unnatural positions, skull crushed and distorted, blood flowing...

The words alone present an image in your mind - don't they? Freeze that image - and start to rearrange the gory bits and super-impose them onto say your son, daughter, father, wife or significant other. Starting to feel a little different about the image don't you.

Take those same gory bits and start to replace them on your own body - and ask yourself if you would ever want to have your mother see you dismembered like that - and how she would feel... Especially if that person were making money from that picture of you - dead or crudely spray painted on a wall from an explosion. You might want to trust the people around you not to do something like that.

When Mr. Miller was embedded with the Marines - he established a 'trust' with them not to take pictures of the dead for his personal gain (His JOB) and make them available - Mr. Miller obviously violated that 'trust'. Is that censorship?

Aug. 04 2008 02:08 AM
barryinNewYorkCity

No one was "smearing the press"

This is about a guy who used incredibly poor judgment about where he was and what he was doing.
And he is extremely fortunate to have learned his lesson
so gently.

He screwed himself.
If he didnt know before that the marines don't want pictures of thier brothers KIA put into circulation,
now he does.
He will be blackballed from the imbed system.
Mr Miller can whine all he want's about it being unfair
Some guys just learn the hard way.

He can always just go by himself.
Others have.

He had a great opportunity and he blew it.

PS:
Take this stupid straw man argument and shove it.

"To argue that our war dead and wounded should be swept under the rug and ignored by the American public, represents a view of our troops as cannon fodder that I find beneath contempt."

Aug. 04 2008 12:12 AM
Grumpy Demo from Dallas

I think your spam filter is blocking my post of links to Mr Douglas's work. Several links at the UT website of his work.

If you could check and approve, it would be appreciated.

Aug. 03 2008 11:47 PM
Grumpy Demo from Dallas

Dang Out of Order

Part II

The idea that it is somehow moral and noble in a democracy for the government to hide the bodies of both the dead US troops and innocent civilians, is so wrong on moral, religious, and political grounds I don't know where to being.

I looked at the pictures on Mr. Miller's site, what was interesting to me was they are very similar in their subject matter and style of the war photographer David Douglas.

I was introduced to Mr. Douglas in an interview by Terry Gross on Fresh Air during Veterans Days several years ago. After the interview, this son of US Marine Korean war vet, went to University of TX website to view his work. The power of his photos were almost overwhelming.

Here's several photos that, to me, are very similar in both their subject matter and style to that of Mr. Millers:

http://www.hrc.utexas.edu/exhibitions/web/ddd/gallery/war/362.

htmlhttp://www.hrc.utexas.edu/exhibitions
/web/ddd/gallery/war/362.

htmlhttp://www.hrc.utexas.edu/exhibitions/web/ddd/gallery/war/362.

htmlhttp://www.hrc.utexas.edu/exhibitions/web/ddd/gallery/war/362.

htmlhttp://www.hrc.utexas.edu/exhibitions/web/ddd/gallery/war/362.

htmlhttp://www.hrc.utexas.edu/exhibitions/web/ddd/gallery/war/362.

htmlhttp://www.hrc.utexas.edu/exhibitions/web/ddd/gallery/war/362.

htmlhttp://www.hrc.utexas.edu/exhibitions/web/ddd/gallery/war/362.

htmlhttp://www.hrc.utexas.edu/exhibitions/web/ddd/gallery/war/362.

Aug. 03 2008 11:45 PM
Grumpy Demo from Dallas

Dang out of order

Part II

The idea that it is somehow moral and noble in a democracy for the government to hide the bodies of both the dead US troops and innocent civilians, is so wrong on moral, religious, and political grounds I don't know where to being.

I looked at the pictures on Mr. Miller's site, what was interesting to me was they are very similar in their subject matter and style of the war photographer David Douglas.

I was introduced to Mr. Douglas in an interview by Terry Gross on Fresh Air during Veterans Days several years ago. After the interview, this son of US Marine Korean war vet, went to University of TX website to view his work. The power of his photos were almost overwhelming.

Here's several photos that, to me, are very similar in both their subject matter and style to that of Mr. Millers:

http://www.hrc.utexas.edu/exhibitions/web/ddd/gallery/war/362.

htmlhttp://www.hrc.utexas.edu/exhibitions
/web/ddd/gallery/war/362.

htmlhttp://www.hrc.utexas.edu/exhibitions/web/ddd/gallery/war/362.

htmlhttp://www.hrc.utexas.edu/exhibitions/web/ddd/gallery/war/362.

htmlhttp://www.hrc.utexas.edu/exhibitions/web/ddd/gallery/war/362.

htmlhttp://www.hrc.utexas.edu/exhibitions/web/ddd/gallery/war/362.

htmlhttp://www.hrc.utexas.edu/exhibitions/web/ddd/gallery/war/362.

htmlhttp://www.hrc.utexas.edu/exhibitions/web/ddd/gallery/war/362.

htmlhttp://www.hrc.utexas.edu/exhibitions/web/ddd/gallery/war/362.

Aug. 03 2008 11:43 PM
Grumpy Demo from Dallas

Part III

Per Fresh Air: "Life magazine has called David Douglas Duncan perhaps the best war photographer since Matthew Brady. In 1999, Duncan received a lifetime achievement award for excellence and bravery from the Marine Corps."

The idea that Mr. Miller should be treated like a criminal for doing the same work as Mr. Douglas, just illustrates the immorality of the current administration and the politicization of our military (another story ignored by the MSM).

How is Mr. Douglas' work any different that Mr. Miller? To me the only difference is that now the MSM have self- censored themsleves to ignore the war and its consequences, and the Right want the country to ignore our troops sacrifice and applauds hiding their bodies.

(A quick check of Google, shows Mr. Douglas appears to be live, age 92. It would be interesting to hear his oppion the this issue specifically and the MSM coverage of the war in general.)

To argue that our war dead and wounded should be swept under the rug and ignored by the American public, represents a view of our troops as cannon fodder that I find beneath contempt.

This American is profoundly worried about our government and the politicization of our military that appears to have been purged by W and prays for our troops.

(sorry for the way too long posts)

Aug. 03 2008 11:41 PM
Grumpy Demo from Dallas

(Part II)

The idea that it is somehow moral and noble in a democracy for the government to hide the bodies of both the dead US troops and innocent civilians, is so wrong on moral, religious, and political grounds I don't know where to being. I would suggest you review St. Thomas Aquinas writings on Just War Theory.

I looked at the pictures on Mr. Miller's site, what was interesting to me was they are very similar in their subject matter and style of the war photographer David Douglas.

I was introduced to Mr. Douglas in an interview by Terry Gross on Fresh Air during Veterans Days several years ago. After the interview, this son of US Marine Korean war vet, went to University of TX website to view his work. The power of his photos were almost overwhelming.

Here's several photos that, to me, are very similar in both their subject matter and style to that of Mr. Millers:

http://www.hrc.utexas.edu/exhibitions/web/ddd/gallery/war/362.

htmlhttp://www.hrc.utexas.edu/exhibitions
/web/ddd/gallery/war/362.

htmlhttp://www.hrc.utexas.edu/exhibitions/web/ddd/gallery/war/362.

htmlhttp://www.hrc.utexas.edu/exhibitions/web/ddd/gallery/war/362.

htmlhttp://www.hrc.utexas.edu/exhibitions/web/ddd/gallery/war/362.

htmlhttp://www.hrc.utexas.edu/exhibitions/web/ddd/gallery/war/362.

htmlhttp://www.hrc.utexas.edu/exhibitions/web/ddd/gallery/war/362.

htmlhttp://www.hrc.utexas.edu/exhibitions/web/ddd/gallery/war/362.

htmlhttp://www.hrc.utexas.edu/exhibitions/web/ddd/gallery/war/362.

Aug. 03 2008 11:40 PM
Grumpy Demo from Dallas

barryinNewYorkCity, Nice attempt to smear the press based on a unsubstantiated story. Ever since Vietnam the Right believe that the Press, by keeping the public informed, lost the war. Perhaps one of the biggest lies to come out the war (it is neck and neck with the Tokkin sp? Resolution).

Aug. 03 2008 11:40 PM
barryinNewYorkCity

What Mark said.

Aug. 03 2008 08:49 PM
Mark Heller from San Francisco

(part 3)

While there I was overhearing an AP photographer instructing his Somali driver that when the next helicopter landed he was to drive around the gate and guard and get him as close as he could to the landing aircraft - because it was already known that this last flight was bringing back the first Marine dead. And for the next few minutes I got to listen to this moron calculate what the picture was going to be worth to him - it was disgusting. So when the CH-53 was coming in he gave the order for his driver to disobey the guard and got around her - at which point I pulled out, aimed in on the driver, removed him from the vehicle and disarmed him on the ground. At which point the photographer attempted to get in-between me and his armed driver flashing his press pass to the base as if it were some 'all access' pass to back stage of some concert. As if he were entitled to drive under a landing helicopter to endanger the pilot and crew - so he could get his 'money shot' of a dead 19 year old kid in a Marine uniform. So he too was put on the ground by force and detained by me for the next several hours on his face in the dirt - and not so much for the disgust I felt for why he wanted to do that - but for the gaul of thinking that he could endanger the living doing so, and that the orders he received by the MP at the gate did not somehow apply to him.

Aug. 03 2008 07:47 PM
Mark Heller from San Francisco

(* My experiance mentioned above)
When the political atmosphere did finally deteriorate in Somalia - and first Marines injured in combat were still missing everyone got to see the reaction of the media in a very disgusting light that would surpass what we had already felt at the time. Salivating mobs of photographers clamoring for pictures of the dead and wounded - and in the case I am about to describe, a disrespect for the safety of the living. I was a driver for the WO4 in my unit, and while the missing were still being located I drove him to a meeting at the Army Hospital at the Airport where many of the wounded had already been brought. Hordes of reporters had already been removed from the hospital grounds due to the fact that they were interfering in the treatment of them. Outside I was parked by a gate where an MP was guarding a helicopter landing area that was bringing in the wounded.

Aug. 03 2008 07:45 PM
Mark Heller from San Francisco

While I do not agree with the 'embed program', I have been witness to the general attitude and demeanor in which coverage of potential combat situations have caused problems between the military and media in the past - while in Somalia. The result of that situation was a division of the media (That we brought there to cover for political gain of the political leader(s) who sent us there) and the military of whom rightfully saw the media as a danger to troops on the ground. (* due to chacter count the story does not fit here)

While the story told by Zoriah Miller does not openly reflect parallels - I suspect that there are some to my previous experience that have much less to do with censorship, but of respect for both the living and the dead. Because I find it obvious that he offended someone on site while snapping his pictures, and in such a way that while he did not 'break the rules' so to speak, but broke a trust with those he was embedded with.

Aug. 03 2008 07:42 PM
Formerly disappointed. from WA

This was a terrific piece. I am curious about the phrasing of (part of) one of the questions asked of Zoriah [and please forgive me if I missed a word, but this is true to its sense]:

"...out of respect for their own readers, who don't necessarily wish to be assaulted by ghastly images on the front page of the newspaper..."

The use of the word "assaulted" here seems deliberate - it's repeated just after this. That use is rich with irony: to call pictures assaults, given that what they show are the results of real, actual deadly assaults.

But it didn't come across as ironic; if it was intended that way, I think it was a tad too subtle. And because it didn't come across as ironic, it seemed an inappropriate language choice.

In part because the irony noted above made it seem just in bad taste; but mostly because all Americans are complicit in this war. We have no right to bury our heads in the sand on this issue; instead, we have a positive obgliation to confront the horrors that we have wrought.

I should add that this story as a whole was entirely focused on exactly that kind of confrontation, so I'm not accusing you (Bob) of dodging that issue. Just that I thought it curious and inappropriate to use language that frames this issue (in my view) in terms of a right to avoid such graphic images.

Thanks.

Aug. 03 2008 06:21 PM
barryinNewYorkCity

Ever heard of MICHAEL YON?
Check out his approach to combat photography. This is how you show the truth and not have Marines wanting to kill you because they feel betrayed.
http://www.michaelyon-online.com/

I think we all understand that technically he didn't violate the contract with the Marines.
To me that is rather beside the point, the world doesn't always function so cut and dried. He violated a trust among warriors, anyway bad decision.
It is revealing that they did not simply take away his memory card, it shows Marines value integrity.

Look I know it had to be a tough call to post or not.
Mr Miller should have sat on the shots a bit longer, 10 years or so.
If Mr Miller had waited he could still be in Iraq revealing the truth, now he will miss out on Afghanistan II as well.

I think people know war sucks and there is no shortage of dead people online for folks to see, frankly the shots were just not iconic enough to justify publication, it just did not add enough to the conversation to justify torching his relationship with the Marines.
We all know what Marines do. They Fight, Kill and Die.

For the next generation:
If you are an aspiring photojournalist look through Mr Millers site but visit Yon as well:
http://www.michaelyon-online.com/

Aug. 03 2008 05:49 PM
NeverForget from USA

Excellent interview. The images at Mr. Miller's site are eye-opening and sobering for this American. I hope Mr. Miller continues his most excellent work

Aug. 03 2008 01:40 PM
Jack Nugent from Chicago, Il

Thank you, Zoriah, for having the guts to see past and get past the censorship surrounding the Iraq War. Thank you for standing up to journalistic integrity and for the fourth estate. Thank you for showing us the true cost of this war.

Aug. 03 2008 12:57 PM
Nancy Nortrup

From clicking the link from your recent piece of Z Miller, trying to reach other blue highlighted links on his site were unresponsive- including at the end of the "first pg- a blue highlighted "Next" which was also unresponsive.

A FYI- in case there have been attempts to restrict or disable Z Miller's site. Glad you included this piece- transparency is a hard pill for any entity- including our tax supported ones such as the Pentagon-to swallow or allow in much breadth.

Aug. 02 2008 08:11 PM

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